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Sep 19, 2016 4:49 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Congressman Zeldin Visits With Flanders Residents To Discuss Zip Code Proposal

Congressman Lee Zeldin and Ron Fisher, president of the Flanders, Riverside, Northampton Association during a round table discussion at the Big Duck in Flanders. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Sep 21, 2016 8:10 AM

Whenever Carol Findlay invites over friends who have never been to her East Street home in Flanders, she worries that their GPS will send them to Riverhead instead.

That is because not only do Flanders and Riverhead share the same zip code, both also have roads named East Street—with the latter located some six miles from Ms. Findlay’s home.

“When you type in Flanders, it immediately switches to Riverhead,” explained Ms. Findlay, who has lived in the same house for the past 50 years.

Though it might seem like a minor inconvenience, the fact that both communities share multiple street names and the same zip code has caused other issues, such as mail not being delivered to the proper address, and ambulance crews struggling to find the right house when responding to emergencies.

Ms. Findlay is not the only one affected by the continued sharing of zip codes. And adding to the ongoing confusion is that the hamlets of Flanders, Riverside and Northampton—all of which share the same 11901 zip code as Riverhead Town—feature 18 identical street names, and 32 similar street names, to Riverhead.

After decades of frustration, residents of the tri-hamlet area are once again pushing their federal representative—U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin—to urge the powers that be to finally create a new zip code for their communities.

Mr. Zeldin met with about two dozen area residents to discuss the situation on Saturday afternoon as part of an outdoor roundtable discussion held in the shadow of the Big Duck in Flanders. Mr. Zeldin was joined by U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, as Mr. Chaffetz has successfully helped a community in Salt Lake City County in Utah change its zip code in 2012 after experiencing similar problems.

Mr. Chaffetz shared with those in attendance his plan to secure a new, unique zip code for the three hamlets. In July, Mr. Chaffetz introduced a bill, titled the “Postal Service Reform Act of 2016,” seeking to reform the U.S. Postal Service. While the main thrust of his bill is to improve postal services and provide better benefits to federal employees, it also includes a subsection containing language that would mandate that Flanders, Riverside and Northampton get their own new zip code by September 30, 2017.

The bill was approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform—the committee Mr. Chaffetz chairs and has jurisdiction over the post office—and is awaiting action by the House of Representatives. If the bill fails to garner additional support there, Mr. Zeldin said he will push for a postmaster survey to be sent out to every resident within the 11901 zip code. The survey, which would ask if a new zip code should be created, would need more than 50 percent approval for that to happen.

“I can’t promise that it will happen this year,” Mr. Chaffetz said of the new zip code. “But I promise we will work our hardest—and I’m the chairman, so I like our odds.”

Mr. Zeldin, who recruited Mr. Chaffetz after the post office ignored the local congressman’s request for a new zip code, said he is going to continue pushing for its creation.

“The delay of deliveries caused by this issue is not just a nuisance to the local community, but can also greatly impact quality of life,” Mr. Zeldin said. “These packages can hold important goods like medications, which are critical for a person’s health and well-being. They can also cause major problems for police, first responders and other emergency personnel who may arrive at the wrong address due to these shared street names with the same zip code.

“For residents of these three hamlets, this has been a top priority for several years,” he added. “I will work closely with them and Chairman Chaffetz to get this fixed.”

Several Flanders residents who attended the discussion said they are confident that Mr. Zeldin will deliver where his predecessors have come up short.

Angela Huneault, who lives on Nassau Street in Flanders—there is also a Nassau Street in Riverhead—told the congressmen she has been victim of her medications getting sent to the wrong address. She also noted that a neighbor who called 911 when someone was having a heart attack had to wait longer for an ambulance to arrive because it went to the wrong street.

Mary Cunningham, who lives on Royal Avenue in Flanders—a street name that is not duplicated in Riverhead Town—pointed out that she knows several people in her neighborhood who have mail-ordered medicine but were forced to cancel because the post office could not find the correct address. “It’s really a shame,” she said.

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Congressman Zeldin has done NOTHING to help the USPS and now wants to create an additional zip code? How about saving the USPS money and proposing 1 Postmaster for every 5 Post Offices? Only a phone call away should a problem arise and a short drive. Also make Shop Stewart a working Foreman and get rid of Supervisors! would save a lot of money on people who don't even handle the mail!
By boatops (3), Mastic on Sep 22, 16 11:31 AM
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